A South Australian MP, who quit the Liberal Party amid theft and dishonesty charges, has struck a defiant tone saying he will defend the allegations and stay on as an independent until the next election.
Liberal leader Steven Marshall has admitted the situation is not ideal heading into the March poll, while Premier Jay Weatherill has called on the MP to quit parliament.
Troy Bell, 43, the member for the southeast seat of Mt Gambier, quit the party on Thursday night after being charged with 20 counts of theft and six of dishonesty following an investigation by the Independent Commissioner Against Corruption.
"I find it incredible that with only seven months to the next state election, allegations are made dating back eight years causing me maximum political damage," Mr Bell said on Friday.
"I am not going to run and hide from this. I think the people of Mount Gambier would be disappointed if their member cut and run as soon as the going got tough."
Mr Bell said the allegations had left him "sick to my stomach" and in a state of "disbelief and shock".
Mr Marshall said while the MP had expressed his innocence, it was impractical for him to stand for re-election.
"The magnitude of these charges made it very clear that court proceedings were not going to be put in place and resolved prior the next election," Mr Marshall said.
Mr Weatherill has said Mr Bell's resignation from the Liberal Party did not go far enough and called on the MP to stand down.
The premier also criticised Mr Marshall's decision to not reveal details of the charges against Mr Bell when he first learned of them earlier this week.
He said that made the opposition leader weak and someone who "dithers and hides" in times of crisis.
"No wonder nobody knows what he stands for or what he is going to offer the people of South Australia," Mr Weatherill said.
Mr Marshall said he couldn't have acted sooner because the matter was before the corruption commissioner.
The Liberals still believe they can retain Mt Gambier at the March election and have reopened the preselection process to pick a new candidate.